From the outside, the beer industry has been transformed massively and positively over the last decade. We seem to be surrounded by incredible craft beers from countless micro breweries who have taken a wonderful chunk of the beer market.
Whilst there is much truth in this for the consumer, the inside reality is that only a tiny slice of the ale pie has been shared by the mass produced lager dominating giants. It is the passion, invention, talent and drive of the makers and sellers that is keeping the good stuff lining our bars and pleasing our palates. So we thought it only right to celebrate those who are bringing these joyous drinks directly to our frothing mouths: the bottle shop.
In York, there have always been a great choice of traditional pubs pouring real ales, from the ancient alehouses that retain the stout-supping atmosphere, to the York Brewery bars showcasing their own awesome offerings. But until recently the city has not had the the same selection of shops in which one can take the craft home. Indeed, one – or now two – notable exceptions to this are better known as bars themselves…
House of the Trembling Madness is as eccentric a place as its name suggests, though for all the wonky edges and decorative oddities, it is smoothly accomplished. So much so that the original on Stonegate became popular enough to open a second on Lendal. In both, as well as ascending the stairs in the stunning buildings to discover inviting rooms and intriguing artefacts, head down to the underground bottle shops. Here, you will be met by walls of beers, from floor to ceiling, all around.
The choice is overwhelming, with over 5000 products across the two stores, though you’ll find it hard to pick a duffer in all that. A trip to these mini museums of modern beers is an experience in itself, and you’ll likely leave with bags full. It’s hardly surprising House of the Trembling Madness is the independent craft beer retailer of the year 2019.
Happily, they’ve not got it all their own way in York, as other stores have opened up or raised their beer game, and the occasional bar allows for takeaways from fridges full of craft cans too. Of the latter, Pivni is a tough pub to leave, a 16th century candlelit snug of traditional charms and great guest ales, but when you do, raid the fridge for tinnies and bottles from top local brewers like Magic Rock and Thornbridge.
Or you can go straight to source, for the super Brew York not only has an epic tap room with 20 of their own beers on and 20 of their friends’, they also sell their canned range to drink on or off site, from a simple Jarsa session pale to an experimental Rhubarbra Streisand milkshake ale.
Outside of the centre, two York shops in particular are bringing the beer to the suburbs. The Tipsy Fox in Haxby is a classic off licence, selling budget booze for the many, but also stocking plenty of great craft beers for the few, from the likes of Northern Monk, Yorkshire Heart and Roosters. In Acomb, Hop and Glory have gone head first into the best brews since opening last year.
Hundreds of beers from marvellous micros across the UK, including Yorkshire’s Brass Castle and North Brewing, makes for a hugely enjoyable browsing, even better buying, and ultimate home drinking experience. Do it.